December 10th, 2009


Holiday shopping list #2: Look! Up in the sky!

I am a total comic geek, and I'm not ashamed. I'm also a Marvel girl, and—as seems to be increasingly unusual in some circles—I'm a superhero fan. I like my flying men in tights and my women in impractical shoes. No matter how insane the storylines become, at the end of the day, it's pretty easy to make me happy.

We start, of course, with comics. For the X-geek in your life, or for the geek who just wants people to understand your love of all things X-Man, the Grant Morrison run on New X-Men is a fantastic place to start. It has enough backstory to "fill in the gaps" for people just joining, while being an incredible, world-spanning story that it's hard as heck not to love. The Grant Morrison run has been collected into three massive volumes. New X-Men: Collection I [Amazon] kicks things off with the bombing of Genosha, the world's only all-mutant country. New X-Men: Collection II [Amazon] ups the ante in a dozen different ways, and New X-Men: Collection III [Amazon] brings things to a screaming, ass-kicking conclusion. I highly recommend these books, and not just because Emma Frost features heavily.

If you're looking for something a little outside the mainstream of the superhero world, Robert Kirkman's Invincible is an amazing title from Image, one that dares to show superheroes as a little more human than most publishers will dare. It's a painful, beautiful story, and since it's relatively new (IE, "this century"), catching up isn't all that hard. Invincible: The Ultimate Collection, Volume I [Amazon] is a big, beautifully sturdy hardback introduction to Mark Grayson and his world. If that's a bit too big for your budget, Invincible book one: Family Matters [Amazon] and Invincible book two: Eight Is Enough [Amazon] include the first issues of the series, and are more than awesome enough to get you hooked.

My current favorite superhero title is a lot darker. Garth Ennis—the man who brought us Preacher, which really tells you something about how dark we're talking here—has turned his attention the superhero world, and the resulting title is...disturbing, to say the least. Start with The Boys, volume one: The Name of the Game [Amazon]. Proceed from there to The Boys volume two: Get Some [Amazon]. With fantastic art, a gritty storyline, and an all-too-plausible superhero community, The Boys is a great antidote to all that four-color brightness. (If you need still more dark-but-awesome superheroics, look up Incognito [Amazon] and Wanted [Amazon], which really has nothing to do with the movie. But don't say I didn't warn you about the dark.)

Important note: All of the above are graphic novels, and can be obtained from your local comic book store. The Amazon links are for reference, and for people who don't have a local comic book store. Buy local. It's awesome.

Soon I Will Be Invincible [Amazon]|[Mysterious Galaxy] by Austin Grossman is a brilliant piece of superhero fiction that looks at the heroic and the villainous at the same time. I can't recommend it highly enough. I also can't say much about it without spoiling the surprise. Check it out, it's awesome.

If you enjoy the "Velveteen vs." series, you absolutely have to take a look at Black and White [Amazon]|[Mysterious Galaxy] by Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge. This is the start of a bad-ass series about a world where superheroes are under corporate control, and stepping outside the lines costs you more than you could possibly imagine. It's an awesome treatment of a superhero world, and the contrast between good and evil has never been more blurred.

Sometimes you want your superheroes to be fluffy and fun, and those are the times when you should reach for the Bigtime books by Jennifer Estep. Karma Girl [Amazon]|[Mysterious Galaxy], Hot Mama [Amazon]|[Mysterious Galaxy], and Jinx [Amazon]|[Mysterious Galaxy] are superhero romance cotton candy with a sharply sweet bite, like cocktails that look completely innocent until they knock you on your ass. They're more fun than a barrel of radioactive monkeys, and I hugely recommend them.

I've tried to avoid movies in today's gift suggestions, but I can't resist slipping one in here: Krrish [Amazon]. It's sort of the Bollywood answer to the big-budget Hollywood superhero movie, with a dash of Tarzan and several large dance numbers. It's incredibly fun, and incredibly weird, and really, really worthwhile. For seriously.

Got any heroes or villains to recommend? Tell me about it!
the mourning edition

Word count -- DEADLINE.

Words: 6,418.
Total words: 77,039.
Reason for stopping: end of chapter fourteen, time to work on my page proofs.
Music: Eddie From Ohio.
Lilly and Alice: warming my feet.

What does a two hundred page zombie novel do to its author? Anything it wants. I swear, working on this book is like riding a roller coaster with no brakes. The ride operators are evil clowns, and if I sleep, they'll eat me. I get up, go to work, write on the train. Get off work, go home, write on the train. I feel like I'm in a foot race with my own brain. But I really like what's coming out on the other end; it could definitely be worse.

I did the math today, and realized that I'll only have fifty-nine days between the release of A Local Habitation and the release of Feed. That's nowhere near long enough. That's all the time in the world. So in the interests of only going a little crazy during that narrow window, I'm slamming through Blackout as fast as I can without losing my footing, and I'm enjoying every second of this crazy ride.

Plus it's an excuse to contact scientists and ask them horrible questions.

My baby is turning into a real live book, with a real live plot and real live problems, and I couldn't be happier.

Rosemary and reviews, the "cleaning up my tabs" edition.

I tend to hoard interesting links and reviews of Rosemary and Rue until they hit a certain critical mass, at which point my choices become "make a post" or "suffer from a browser crash." Because this is how I sort of preserve things for future reference, here's the latest in our "Seanan likes reviews" series of entries.

Over at ALPHA Reader, Danielle has posted a lovely, well-considered review. She says "I really loved this book" and "McGuire is currently contracted for three books, but has six planned all together." Won't she be surprised when we reach book eight? (To be clear, I am currently contracted through book three, working on book five, and clearly outlined through book nine. I clearly never want to sleep again.)

The Williamsburg Regional Library posts a daily book recommendation, and recently Rosemary and Rue was their book of the day. Their Circulation Services Director says "What makes this book original are the myriad details. A wealth of characters from fantasy—Daoine Sidhe, Kitsune, Undine, Cait Sidhe, as well as goblins, selkies, and a variety of changeling combinations populate both Faerie and the human realm. It's interesting to see how the different races interact with each other." Yay world-building for the win!

ashnistrike has posted a brief review, and says "It's very good urban fantasy—not so brilliant as to make me do cartwheels and cry because the next one isn't out yet, but good enough that I will buy the next as soon as it's available."

Our next review comes from the Warren Public Library, and says "It's a gripping mystery with a lot of urban fantasy thrown in to the mix, and as Toby delves into the dark side of her past and present (and maybe even future), you'll learn about the world of the fullblooded fairies and the halfblooded changelings that inhabit the California coast." Works for me.

Renee's Book Addiction (and, one presumes, Renee) says "This was a really enjoyable new UF (urban fantasy) series. I love stories about the fae, and the San Francisco setting really made the story vivid for me."

Finally for tonight's roundup, Felicia Day sounds off on the topic of Toby. She says "This book had a GREAT setting and environment, I was engrossed in the mystery and, (although a bit exposition-y in sections) I was along for the ride the whole way and immersed in the mythology." She has some plot issues (which are spoilery if you haven't read the book), but it was a positive review, and I couldn't be happier.

That's it for tonight. Join me next week when I try to close down Firefox without using a hammer. Again.